UPDATE: Rep. Charlie Dent announced in a statement Thursday that he will not seek re-election to another term in Congress in 2018. In it he said, in part, “Earlier this year, my family discussions about the future increased in frequency, and I looped in a small group of immediate family, friends and senior staff, ultimately deciding in mid-summer that I would not seek another term.” To read the full statement, click here to read a Lehigh Valley Live story about it.
The state representative for part of Lower Saucon Township, Justin Simmons (R-131), announced Wednesday that he is running for the Lehigh Valley congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-15) because, Simmons said, Dent is too liberal and a new voice in Washington is needed.
“I’m excited to announce that I have officially entered the race to challenge Charlie Dent for the Republican nomination for Congress in the 15th Congressional District,” Simmons said in a post on his Facebook page. “Charlie Dent is indeed America’s most liberal Republican and the Republican electorate deserves a choice in the primary that won’t sell out to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats at every turn.”
Simmons, 31, also criticized Dent for his quarter century in politics.
“Charlie Dent has been in politics for 26 years,” he said. “It’s time for a new voice in Washington, D.C., and that voice should have a record of standing up for the people, challenging the political establishment of both parties and winning, and taking on the radical left. I am that voice.”
Simmons has been the state representative for the 131st legislative district since 2010, when he won the office after defeating incumbent and Lower Saucon Township resident Karen Beyer in the Republican primary.
A Southern Lehigh native he represents a district that in addition to western Lower Saucon Township includes part of Salisbury Township, Emmaus, Upper Milford Township, Lower Milford Township, Coopersburg and Upper Saucon Township in Lehigh County and East Greenville, Pennsburg, Red Hill and Upper Hanover Township in Montgomery County.
In a news release, Simmons said he “has received substantial positive feedback since his public pronouncement about possibly challenging Dent last week.”
“Like many Republicans, I used to support Charlie Dent,” he said in the news release. “But in the past year Charlie Dent has completely gone off the rails. Dent has been on the wrong side of every major issue from ObamaCare, spending, border control and the list goes on.”
“His actions don’t stop with a simple NO vote,” Simmons said. “Dent spends most of his efforts conspiring with Democrats to undermine the Republicans in Congress and the President. Charlie Dent now sides more with Nancy Pelosi than with the Republicans who sent him there.”
Simmons also stressed that he will not be seeking re-election to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and that he’s launched a new Justin Simmons for Congress website to help connect with voters leading up to the 2018 primary.
The 15th U.S. Congressional District includes western parts of Northampton County (including Saucon Valley), Lehigh County, and parts of Berks, Lebanon and Dauphin counties.